Lessons from Sir Richard Branson
Virgin Billionaire

By studying the lives of exceptional people, we gain insights that may in turn help us to become exceptional. Here are some of the highlights from my recent readings on Richard Branson.

Founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Music, and more than 170 other companies Richard Branson epitomizes innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. The following excerpts from his autobiography Losing My Virginity illustrate several of the qualities which have helped formulate his success.

1. Motivated by something beyond money.
"Above all, you want to create something you are proud of.... That has always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing." -- p. 43

2. The importance of a good name.
"All you have in life is your reputation: you may be very rich, but if you lose your good name, then you'll never be happy. The thought will always lurk at the back of your mind that people don't trust you. I had never really focused on what a good name meant before, but that night in prison made me understand."

3. Big picture thinking & creative problem solving
In his book, Branson tells the story of a Mike Oldfield concert that was to take place at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Oldfield, the featured artist, had decided he did not want to do it. This was a major promotional event, designed to bring visibility to Virgin Records' inaugural shining star. Tickets had been sold, the concert all set to go and Oldfield, that morning, had determined not to perform.
Branson's creative problem solving saved the day. The two went for a drive together in Branson's Bentley. After the drive, Branson asked if Mike would like the car, as a present. Mike said sure.
Branson said, "I'll get out here and walk home. You just keep on driving and the car is yours."
"Come off it! It was your wedding present."
"No, all you have to do is drive it around to Queen Elizabeth Hall and go up onstage tonight. It's yours."
Mike agreed. Tubular Bells eventually sold over thirteen million copies and became one of the best selling albums ever released in Britain.

4. Dreaming impossible dreams.
Writes Branson, "My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them." Hence, in addition to successes in business, Branson became first to cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon, the first across the Pacific, and the fastest to cross the Atlantic by boat. His life exhibits a "no limits" attitude that ever seeks to stretch the boundaries of what is achievable.

5. Success is not a formula, but it doesn't 'just happen.'
"To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can't guarantee it just by following someone else's formula." A swashbuckling entrepeneur who lives life to the full, Branson has seized life by the throat and given it all he's got. And from here? To think he's only half begun!


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